WARNING: If you are an under-age reader or of a delicate disposition, you should probably not read further. This blog entry will feature cute chicks and graphic descriptions of sex involving animals and multiple partners...
Chicken are lucky. They have very small heads. A small cranium is believed to be associated with a limited intellect. Therefore, our cocky cockerel Charlie does not have an in-depth understanding of genetics or even of the basic facts of life. Which is a good thing. For him.
Let me illustrate:
Here you have a very proud Charlie and his good lady wives, Florence Fluffybum and Queen Vicky.
And here you have the offspring: a batch of super cute little balls of fluff, freshly hatched yesterday.
You, dear reader, hopefully in posession of a larger cranium brimming with grey cells and curiosity, will feel a question popping into your heads. You may not be confident to ask it though because you feel a bit vague about the ins and outs of poultry procreation.
So let me confirm your suspicion: Yes, black chicken usually have black chicks; brown ones often produce brown little chirpers and so forth.
Charlie, never having got this far, is currently strutting around proud as punch of his 'achievement' and it is a good job he can't read, because further humiliation is to follow.
If Charlie isn't the daddy and there are no other cockerels about, how come? Immaculate conception in hens is not a concept endorsed by our current pope, no matter how desperate things are getting for the Vatican. As for most 'miracles' there is a perfectly reasonable explanation.
And here it is:
(This is the bit with the animal sex for those of you who were skim reading up to this point, wanting to get straight to the titillating bit.)
If you are a cockerel, your preferred mating position is with your beak pinning your somewhat reluctant partner down while jumping onto her back. The rest you can imagine. Think dogs, but without willies. (If you want more detailed info and diagrams, ckeck out Wikipedia. I really don't want to go there right now.)
If you are a small bantam cockerel, however, and your voluptuous ladies are of a more generously proportioned breed, there are certain practical issues ...such as reach and bounce.
Hence, Charlie's endeavours, albeit zesty and enthusiastic, were somewhat ineffectual and highly amusing to observe. (A You-Tube video was planned, but the participants could not be persuaded to perform at the time of filming no matter how much Viagra we put into the poultry pellets.)
In effect, Charlie kept pinning the ladies down, attempted to flutter onto their backs...and found that the girls where just too much woman for him, giving the phrase 'not getting it up' a whole new meaning. And the few times he did bounce himself high enough, he had to choose: if he kept her pinned down at the front, his vital parts did not reach their destination in the ladies drawer region. If he let go, the lady just shrugged him off like so much baggage.
Consequently, we were not surprised when our hens' first attempt at sitting on a nest produced nothing but extremely slow cooked eggs.
A hen does not know if an egg is fertilised or not. When the urge to brood overcomes her, she will doggedly sit on anything remotely round for 3 weeks. A marble will do, or nothing at all. We tried ice cubes once, attempting to shock a hen out of broodiness. (Someone on the internet recommended this method. Note to self: Not all advice you find online is reliable.) Said hen dutifully remained on the cubes until she had melted the 'eggs' and probably got frostbite in her privates. (Small heads!)
Our hens seem to apply the same logic to broodiness that certain girls apply to going to the loo - it's more fun if you do it together. So, when the ladies got broody again 3 weeks ago, we gave Charlie a helping hand and mail ordered a batch of fertilised eggs from a poultry breeder. These were cunningly swapped for the duff eggs in the nest and - hey presto - three weeks later the sound of little cheeps emerges from the nest. Charlie is proud as punch, the hens are doing the maternal thing and everyone is going totally gooey over the cute chicks.
And the excitement does not end here, because I did not order a batch of eggs of one certain breed. No. I ordered the variety mix from the bargain corner. (Stinginess or a sense of adventure? You may well ask.) I have already spotted three different types of chicks. Who knows what they will turn into. Maybe even dodos or kiwi birds. (My personal favourite would be a platypus, but I think the beaks are all wrong.)
Keep following this blog and you'll find out.